Tuesday, December 30, 2014 1:06 am
Controversial comedy “The Interview” scored almost $18 million in online rentals and purchases, entertainment giant Sony said, following an embarrassing cyberattack and threats.
The low-brow, R-rated comedy featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco revolves around the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
Sony initially canceled the film’s release after many of the biggest US movie theater chains got cold feet following threats from hackers who also claimed a cyberattack on Sony Studios.
The White House has said the attack was orchestrated by North Korea, but Pyongyang has denied any involvement.
In the end, the madcap comedy, which received widespread publicity throughout the episode, played in some 330 independent movie houses that offered to show the film after Sony came under fire for the cancellation.
It was also made available beginning Wednesday across Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft’s Xbox Video and on a dedicated website, seetheinterview.com
Sony has said the comedy was rented or purchased online more than two million times over four days through Saturday, for a total of more than $15 million.
In addition, “The Interview” earned an estimated $1.8 million in theaters over the weekend, adding to the $1 million it raked in on its Christmas Day limited release, according to box office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
– Family fun fills cinemas –
While “The Interview” did not land a spot in the North American box office’s weekend top 10 for ticket sales, Tolkien’s fantasy epic “The Hobbit” enjoyed a second week in first place.
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” directed by Oscar-winning heavyweight Peter Jackson, is the last of six films adapted from J.R.R Tolkien’s books and the third and final installment based on the author’s novel “The Hobbit.”
It took in $40.9 million over the weekend, its second week in theaters, for a total of $168 million since its release, according to Exhibitor Relations estimates.
In second place was “Unbroken,” directed by Angelina Jolie, which tells the story of US bombardier Louis Zamperini, who was taken captive during World War II.
The film, which was snubbed at this month’s Golden Globe nominations, fetched $31.1 million in its debut weekend.
Following closely behind was Disney’s “Into the Woods,” adapted from a Broadway musical, starring Meryl Streep as a witch who puts a curse on a childless baker and his wife.
The film, a modern twist on several Brothers Grimm fairy tales, raked in $30.6 million over the weekend.
In the number four spot was “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” the third movie in the Ben Stiller family-comedy franchise about a museum security guard trying to keep track of exhibits that come to life.
The flick earned $20.2 million in its second week in theaters.